Lovers and Liars : A David Garrick Double Bill
INFLUENCES AND INSPIRATIONS:
Developments in costume design came on leaps and bounds last week after a very successful trip to the West Yorkshire Playhouse. Unlike the other costume hire departments that I have recently visited, West Yorkshire Playhouse is extremely well organised and spacious – with colour coding, clear price lists, labelled boxes, my own collectors rail and mysterious bins of hats, shoes and braces. Alongside the 30% student discount, my OCD and I had a very enjoyable time sourcing enough items to clothe 6 of the 9 characters, with some additional accessories thrown in too.
My influences and inspirations for this project have ranged from the fantastically beautiful and award winning costume design in the 2012 motion picture Anna Karenina, to the more mundane and less fantastically beautiful costume design in the 2012 motion picture Miss in Her Teens. Typically, our budget significantly restricts the potential of our designs, so I have found myself continually weighing up a happy medium between quality and expense by thinking of creative ways to boost the authenticity of our 18th century dress.
I have been using John Peacock’s Costume 1066-1990s as a strong visual reference. As the book is primarily made up of illustrations, it has been very useful to directly compare the pages on ‘1727 fashion’ to the individual items that I select to create a full outfit. When composing my initial costume designs, I found myself thinking of each character by their colour scheme – what different colours say about each personality and how that may influence the way they dress. For example, the character of Captain Loveit, as the loyal and gallant heartthrob of the play, instantly delineates patriotic colours in reference to his commitment to the military and Biddy alike. A red waistcoat represents his former ensign ranking, a blue jacket represents the wealth of his family and white breaches represents the consequential purity and happiness in his relationship with Biddy. As a result, my method of sourcing has begun by approaching a particular colour on the rail which altogether seems to have sped up the process for me. There are a lot of pieces of clothing to sift through in these costume departments so it is useful to know where to begin!
Below is my final design of Fribble alongside a photo of our actor Sean in full costume (with the exception of shoes) as sourced at York Theatre Royal. Fribble’s costume is influenced by 18th Century French fashion. France led the fashion movements by setting a high standard of quality and decadence at the time. As you can see the jacket I have found matches entirely with my design idea – fortunately this began by thinking of the right colours!
PERFORMING AND CREATING AN EARLY MODERN FARCE:
When I first approached the sound design for Miss in Her Teens, I was somewhat apprehensive. After reading the script, there is a distinct lack of any indication of music or sound effects. In fact, there is no mention of any specific noise throughout the text, music effect or otherwise. Whilst historically this wasn’t uncommon, this was new ground for me. It’s always difficult to invent a sound brief from complete scratch; it’s important to offer an authentic audio experience, whilst not overloading the show or distracting the audience’s attention from the action on stage.
After weeks of research, I focused on the works of the 17th Century composer, Henry Purcell. Purcell’s incidental theatre work of the late 17th Century and early 18th Century was commonly used for productions at the Drury Lane Theatre, of which our playwright, David Garrick, was the actor manager. Alongside the use of the works of Purcell, I will also be creating one main audio effect for the first act of the production.
The elements of the sound design for our show can be broken down into three key elements:
The live band, hopefully consisting of a string quartet, will be performing in the foyer of the TFTV department before the show and during the interval. They will be playing Purcell’s incidental music from the play, The Married Beau; Or The Curious Impertinent, Z603. Although not much is known about this play, my research tells me that it was a ‘sex farce’; a play set around the comedy of misunderstanding of pairs of lovers. Although not a complete relation to Miss in Her Teens, it does share the elements of dangerous courtships and multiple love interests. The tone of these plays would more than likely be shared, and this is reflected in the music for The Married Beau. There are a number of light-hearted pieces in the score of The Married Beau that will set the tone of the play it precedes.
The incidental music will be taken from another Purcell work, Amphitryon. The music from Amphitryon comes from the 1690 John Dryden play, is a translation of a 1668 Moliere play, which in turn is also based on the Greek comedy by Platus of the same name. These plays are also, in a sense, sex farces. The warrior Amphitryon returns from war, where the God Jupiter is sleeping with Amphitryon’s wife. The god Mercury disguises himself as Amphitryon’s servant in order to delay his arrival, but undeterred, he arrives at the house. An argument of confusion and jealousy ends with the birth of twins; both Amphitryon’s human son and the demi-god Hercules. The music, (although somewhat dark during some movements), fits the theme of secrecy that is found in Miss in Her Teens. This music will be used in two ways. Firstly, as tracks in full at the beginning and end of each act and secondly as edited clips in order to denote a change of scene and the entrance of a main character.
Lastly, I intend to create a soundscape for the first scene of the first act. In this scene, a number of our characters meet and reunite for the first time in the play. The setting is, however, a busy 18th Century street in London. Our cast, although somewhat sizeable, would be unable to recreate the noise and atmosphere of a crowded London street all by themselves, so the intention is to create this through the medium of sound. The soundscape will consist of the noises of horses and carts, the hustle and bustle of people passing in the street and birds chirping. The intention with the soundscape is to create a believable world in which these larger than life characters may exist.
You can listen to Amphitryon in its entirety here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5u3yAZQcSHw
The sheet music for The Married Beau and Amphitryon can be found in:
Purcell, H., The Works of Henry Purcell (Volumes 16 and 20), London, Novello, Stainer & Bell, 1957-2009
As Set Designer this week I have been developing my final designs through the use of a model box. This is a 1:25 scale model to show the director, actors and design team what the set will look like.